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Parenting

How To Influence Your Child’s Friendships

Take a moment to think about your childhood friends. Everyone has memories from our childhoods that revolve around one of our best friends or a handful of special people who had an impact on our lives. They were with us as we learned important lessons in life, encountered new experiences, and even revealed all our secrets.

Learning to make friends can be difficult for some kids, but it’s an important part of early childhood. Why shouldn’t we desire these friendships for our own children? Although we would like to see those relationships will naturally develop,  as parents its a good idea to learn how to influence our child’s friendships.

So without becoming “that parent” it is possible to have a positive impact on your child’s friendships.  By “that parent” I am referring to the parent’s who are constantly hovering over their children.  There is a huge difference between hovering or smothering your child and being an influence in their life.  (I highly recommend being a parent who influences their child’s decisions).  Please,  don’t become “that parent”.

How to influence your child’s friendships

mom speaking with her daughter

1. Share your stories

Despite whether your child believes it or not, you were a kid once, too!  Talk to your child about your experiences with your childhood friends.  My daughter loves hearing about funny things that my best friend and I did, the music we listened to, the clothes we wore, and the things that we played with.  By all means, keep it light-hearted and avoid making your stories become a lecture.  The point here is to show your child how important good friendships are and the impact that they can have on your life.

2. Talk to your child about the qualities of a good friend.

Friendships developed from common interests and extracurricular activities. But the ones that have stood the test of time are those that have mutually enhanced each other’s lives through shared humor, empathy, honesty, loyalty, trust and respect.

Teach them about the value of friendship.  What are the qualities that you look for in people that make them a good friend.  Also teach them about qualities that do not make people good friends.

3.  Teach your child how they can be a good friend to others.

Good childhood friends

Friendships are a two-way street.  Help them the importance of loyalty, trustworthiness, and being a good listener. Make him/her see that in order to have a good friendship it is important that the relationship is based on reciprocity. The child must understand that selfish behaviors do not strengthen bonds of affection. It is important that the child learns that relationships are two-way and that it is necessary to give if you want to receive.

Read also: Why Playing Together As Family Is Important: Not Just For Kids

4. Teach your child the importance of trust

Convey the importance of trusting others and asking for help when needed. We are all in need of each other, and we aren’t always able to handle the things that happen to us by ourselves. Having a friend to confide in or ask for help is a real treasure. Let him or her know to be there for a friend when he or she is in trouble.

As much as we would like to believe that we impact the tough decisions that our children will have to make, the fact is that our children’s friends will play a huge role in those decisions.  There friends will be there with them at school, during their extra curricular activities, and will be the ones they call, text, or engage with on social media.  These friendships are important as they have a hand in shaping our child’s views and opinions.  Friends can impact a child’s interests, music preferences, style, and personality.  These friendships are important, significant relationships in our child’s lives.

Should we have a say in who our child should be friends with?

In my opinion–yes (to some extent).

Naturally our children are going to be drawn to others who they share similar interests with, look up to, or are intrigued by.  This we have no control over.  What we can do as parents is get to know these kids who our own children want to be friends with.  Some suggestions for how to do this:

Be in their school as much as possible – volunteer, visit, drop off/pick up your child.  I know this might not be an option for some (I struggle with this because of my conflicting work schedule).  The more present you can be in the place that your child spends so much time, the better able you are to get to know the peers that your child spends their time with.

Get to know the other parents – make it a point to meet the parents of your child’s friends.  Find out what their parenting style is.  Are there concerns or red flags that stand out?  Would you feel comfortable allowing your child to be in their care?

Supervise an activity – spend time with a your child and their friend.  Invite the child to your house, take them to a movie, go out for ice cream.  See how they interact with one another.  Are there red flags about the friend’s behavior or manners?

Read also: 8 Ways To Bring Happiness Into Your Marriage

What if you don’t want your child to be friends with someone?

Be careful.  You don’t want to forbid your child from being someone’s friend and tell them they cannot be friends without talking about it.  Be prepared for your child to be upset or confused by your feelings.  Make sure you are open and honest about your concerns and have a conversation about why you feel the way you do.  Elaborate on your feelings and make sure your answers are more than just “because I don’t want you to be friends with that person.”  You don’t want to cause your child to rebel or hide their friendship from you. Talk about concerns that you have.

Making friends and being friendly are very important social skills for success in school as well as in life. Adults can do a lot to instill and develop good social skills in children. Throughout your child’s life many friends will come and go.  Some will be there throughout.  It is OK to influence those friendships and help guide your child along the way.  Teach your child the value of friendship and hope that they make friends that will be there for them through their childhood.

“Its not about what we have in life, but who we have in our life that matters.”

AboutKara

I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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